Arts/Literature

In defense of Coyote

Perhaps the iconic trickster Coyote is a symbol for the frustrations of the smart person in a stupid world.

Facebook reminds me I wrote this a year ago today:

In my mind Coyote is all kinds of complex. For one thing, he’s a genius. He understands the nature of people and places and things, he’s a shrewd observer who misses nothing, and he intuitively grasps truths that others struggle to understand.

He can be as brutal in his honesty as he is in deceit, and one of his most powerful weapons is the ability to use your mistrust of him to tell you the absolute truth while pretending to jest. In a sense honesty and dishonesty are the same to him – means to an end.

He is at times principled and at others cynical, and he’s at his most cynical when he’s disappointed in the intelligence, guile and strength of others.

He is not a good friend to have. Nor is he an enemy you want. On this front, the danger is that you’d have no way of knowing which he actually was.

In so many ways, he is the black mirror to Dog.

I’ve always been intrigued by archetypes, something I think is pretty evident in all my art and writing through the years. At the core I’m a symbolist and weighing myself against our culture’s psychic icons … well, some days life feels like a grand tarot. I live for days like this. Like today.

Trickster tales, of course, are wonderful readings of archetypes, and in my last book I found myself exploring them in multiple poems, including “Eleven Fables.” This section is perhaps more autobiographical than is strictly healthy.

7. Coyote Interprets Joseph Campbell
Burro says: do you think Horse will love me?
Her mane is a high cloud in the
sky blue sky.
My heart is sturdy,
my back strong as stone.

Coyote says:

Slam shut your eyes and
race your dreams over the cliff.

I hear Coyote’s laugh.
It is my laugh.

Or perhaps I let myself off too easily. Hard to say. If Coyote is a creature of schadenfreude, especially in his merciless, wicked amusement at the self-inflicted calamities of the simple, the hateful, the willfully ignorant, at those utterly devoid of self-awareness, I have to admit – I get it completely.

If I ever found a political party, perhaps I’ll challenge the asses and elephants with this:

Coyote for President

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